Professor Gibson
Discerning the Digital Dilemma

AI Bill of Rights and Ethical Best Practices

Hello AI Enthusiast,

This is a slightly different Discerning the Digital Dilemma post.

Last week, the White House issued an executive order giving federal agencies guidance on using Artificial intelligence (AI). The work for this order started back in the fall, but the discussion of AI and its place in our society has been going on in the government for years. Over the next posts weeks, I want to review the AI Bill of Rights, the initial work on AI guidelines, and the developments released last week.

For this blog, let’s focus on the AI Bill of Rights.

Legal Implications

In October 2022, The White House released a “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights.” It is important to note this was not a legal document but rather a list of principles meant to help guide AI’s ethical design and use. But, it indicated how the government was considering AI and potential policies.

The courts also often look to professional documents when deciding precedents in court cases. One example is the Best Practices in Fair Use. Developed in 2005 by American University, documentary filmmakers, and entertainment lawyers, the document sought to establish guidelines for when use is considered “fair use” (meaning you do not have to pay) and when it is not. Since that time, many of the four principles have become part of case law, strengthening the document’s legitimacy.

Overview of Principles

The “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights” outlines five key principles for safeguarding the American public in the era of artificial intelligence, emphasizing the need for systems to be safe, effective, and equitable. 

  1. Safe and Effective Systems: Systems should be developed with diverse input, undergo rigorous testing and risk mitigation, and demonstrate safety and effectiveness for their intended use.
  2. Protection from Algorithmic Discrimination: Algorithms should be designed and used equitably, with proactive measures to prevent discrimination and ensure accessibility.
  3. Data Privacy: Individuals should have control over their data, with strong protections against abusive data practices and surveillance, ensuring privacy by design.
  4. Notice and Explanation: People should be informed about and understand the automated systems impacting them, with clear, accessible explanations of their workings and outcomes.
  5. Human Alternatives, Consideration, and Fallback: Individuals should have options to opt out of automated systems for human alternatives, ensuring fairness and accountability.

These principles serve as a guide for implementing AI in a manner that upholds democratic values, civil rights, and privacy, offering a comprehensive framework for the ethical development, deployment, and governance of automated systems.

The Human Factor

One of the things I love about these recommendations is the human element.

As you’ve heard me say before, we must preserve AI in the nuanced role of extending human capabilities rather than replacing humanity. We must prioritize human agency, judgment, and responsibility throughout the creative process. In the decision-making era of AI, machines should never become autonomous entities with a creative agency.

The beauty of human creativity lies in its unpredictability. Humans are complex. While AI can simulate patterns of creativity, it lacks the authentic spark that human creators ignite. This distinction is crucial in maintaining the integrity of our creative endeavors and ensuring that the arts and innovation sectors remain vibrant and human-centric.

As we navigate this collaborative future, ethical considerations must be at the forefront of our minds. How do we ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability in AI-assisted creations? How do we protect the rights and dignity of all individuals in an increasingly automated world? These questions demand thoughtful exploration and dialogue across sectors, disciplines, and communities.

By embedding the human element at the core of AI development and application, we open up a world of possibilities where technology enhances human potential without overshadowing it. This balanced partnership between humans and AI promises not only to advance our capabilities but also to deepen our understanding of what it means to be human in the digital age.